AN updated Lifetime Ewe Management (LTEM) training course has been adapted to focus on WA pasture conditions and to suit mixed-farming schedules.
National facilitators were in Perth this week to discuss the program and adaptions for WA, particularly mixed-farming schedules where sheep were an important, but not the main, source of income.
The Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA), through its Sheep Industry Business Innovation project, is heading a renewed push to encourage WA sheep producers and wool growers to undertake the course.
About 3000 producers managing more than 20 per cent of the national ewe flock have completed the LTEM program developed by Victoria-based Rural Industry Skills Training.
Participating farmers improved the number of lambs weaned per hectare by 30pc on average, according to DAFWA.
The program is subsidised by Australian Wool Innovation and private companies and aims to increase lamb birth weights and survival, create finer and denser wool and reduce ewe mortality rates.
Farmers pay $865 and spend up to six days learning best-practice ewe management to increase productivity and profitability by focusing on condition scoring of ewes, pasture assessing and feed budgeting.
It also focuses on helping farmers understand the influence nutrition has on a ewe's performance and that of her offspring.
Under the program each producer, helped by a trainer, monitors a group of their own ewes to demonstrate the effects of nutrition and management within their own environment during the ewes' reproductive year.
"It is a relatively small investment of time and money for a great return, as WA farmers who have adopted the program can already attest," said DAFWA's Stephen Tunbridge.
"Previous national participants have reported huge success - with stocking rates up by 15pc, weaning rate increases of about 15pc, plus ewe mortality down by 50pc on average.
"We can't wait to see how well this WA-focused program performs."
According to DAFWA, independent financial analysis by John Young of Farming Systems Analysis WA, found LTEM participant benefits came from efficiency increases due to improved understanding of the pasture-animal system and adopting targets for the condition score profile of their flock.
LTEM trainer Jonathan England said new attitudes and growing confidence were changes he saw most in farmers completing the program.
"After the Lifetime Ewe program, farmers know the difference between what they are and what they should be doing," Mr England said.
"They are aware of the implications of not responding to seasonal impacts and they know they have to do something about it and this makes them feel more in control."
To become involved, farmers need to find other interested sheep farmers in their area to create a Lifetime Ewe Management group and contact Mr Tunbridge on 9821 3221 or email stephen. firstname.lastname@example.org.